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James DeGale vacates EBU 168 lb title, aiming for world title

By Michael Collins: WBC Silver and EBU super middleweight champion James DeGale (14-1, 9 KO’s) has reportedly decided to vacant his EBU strap rather than continuing to defend against fringe contenders one after another. DeGale wants to go after a world title belt at 168.

DeGale said to thesun.co.uk “It has been a real honor to be EBU champion and it’s a shame that I have had to choose between the two championship belts I hold. However, I feel my decision to relinquish the European belt is the fight one at this stage.”

DeGale will hold onto his World Boxing Council Silver super middleweight strap, because he sees it as giving him an opportunity to face better quality opponents than what he’s been facing as the EBU title holder.

It makes a lot of sense because instead of facing really quality fighters that are well known, Degale has defended his EBU title against Cristian Sanavia and Hadillah Mohoumadi, neither of which is well known.

DeGale is supposed to defend his EBU title against Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye on January 26th. It’s unclear at this point whether DeGale will cancel that fight and look to go after a bigger scalp that can get him some attention. I don’t think this is a fight that will register with boxing fans, because Ndiaye isn;’t a well-known fighter either.

DeGale defeated 35-year-old veteran Fulgencio Zuniga by a 12 round unanimous decision earlier this month on December 8th in one of DeGale’s more impressive performances . He didn’t hang on the ropes quite as much as he did in his fight before that against Mohoumadi, and he didn’t take nearly as much punishment. DeGale did spend some time resting against the ropes, but not nearly as much as he did before that.

Right now it’s hard to see DeGale as a world champion because he doesn’t match up well with any of the current champions. Carl Froch, Andre Ward, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham would all likely beat DeGale and beat him quite badly if and when he fights any of them. In my view, DeGale is missing the power to beat the top fighters in the division, and that includes contenders like Andre Dirrell, Anthony Dirrell and Adonis Stevenson.